The PioneersThe MilitaryReferences

The National Health Service

The ambulances of today get to your house or to the place where your injury took place within minutes, in the 17th and 18th century it sometimes took days and by the time the handsome cab got to you, it was probably too late anyway.

There was not such thing as anaesthesia, sure, alcohol, opium, some herbs and other forms of pain relief were used, in general the injured person that required surgery generally suffered immense and excruciating pain.

It is a myth though that the surgeon would operate without the consent of the patient, it was physiologically traumatic for the surgeon to operate having to listen to the patients screams, this would have been made even worse if the patient had not consented first. Some surgeons had the patients agreement that they should be gagged prior to starting.

The surgeon would work extremely quickly this would lessen the suffering of the patient, reduce the amount of shock they would endure and give some chance of survival as the longer surgery was, the more likely you would bleed to death.

Surgeons therefore undertook anatomical lecturing as their primary role and they were generally known as lecturer first and foremost; then surgeon.

The introduction of Anaesthesia changed everything, the surgeon did not have to work as fast, his primary role became that of surgeon, the respect for the Surgeon increased from within and out of the medical establishment and because of this, there was an enormous increase in the number of medical students wishing to take up surgery.

This was not only because of the respect people now showed for it but simply because there was so much work to be done as they they could now perform operations that were deemed impossible prior to the introduction of adequate Anaesthesia. On top of this the surgeon did not have to endure the screams of the patients anymore.



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